When I saw the notification that Mike Fisher would be out for 4-6 months I groaned. McSucking for McDavid. At best, fighting Winnipeg for bottom of the division. No chance in hell of making the playoffs. My mind was seeping in a cloud of negativity. Then I looked at the spreadsheet and manipulated the roster and leaned on my decade experience in athletic training. Roster wise, this injury could surprisingly solidify the roster and lines while giving prospects a chance to develop. Not Great lines but lines none the less.
This should be the first line, you have two goal scorers in Neal and Smith being centered by a playmaker in Wilson. If Lavy is all that he is made up to be this could be a line with a 30 goal scorer in Neal, a 25 goal scorer in Smith, and Wilson who should get 40 assists with this line up. Defensively….Not great but if it goes well you should see this line to be a positive. I could see all 3 guys score 50 points.
Here’s where it could be interesting.
So far Cullen and Stalberg have been a disappointment. As a free agent, Jokinen has been a disappointment compared to the sexiness of a LeCavlier trade. This line could be called the disappointment line. But it will be a fast disappointment. A very fast disappointment line. All three are known for their speed and balance wise it could be interesting Cullen is more of a playmaker and both wings have scoring ability. If Lavy does it right he could field two #2 lines with speed which will leave teams begging for the Neal line. This will be the line that provides the most breakaway goals. If that’s the case, this will be the breakout season for Stalberg. Jokinen can score 45 points with this line, Cullen could score 40 points with this line, Stalberg is the mystery.
I do NOT like this line. I can live with Jarnkrok on the team. I would prefer Forsberg to ripen in the AHL. Bourque on the 4th line. But with injuries this is the line I expect. This is the line where there will be a ton of flux. You have Beck, Sissons, Moser, Watson, Salomaki, who could push for a roster spot. The change from Trotz to Lavy changes EVERYTHING. Do any of these pieces fit with the new system? I know I WANT Jarnkrok on the roster. Bourque will be on the roster but either on the 3rd or 4th line. Bourque’s speed will be a massive plus but the line needs size. Forsberg is expected to be the goalscorer, Jarnkrok the two way playmaker, Bourque speedy forchecker. Question becomes does Forsberg and Jarnkrok develop more and push Cullen and Jokinen to the 3rd line?
The 4th line could be one of the better 4th lines in the league and might get better. Fisher’s injury will cause him to come back early January but the injury itself should force him to limited time. At the beginning of the season you should see Lavy use the extra position to cycle Milwaukee players into the system. What Fisher’s injury does is allow the team to properly develop forward prospects. You could see a cycle of Beck, Clune, Moser, Sissons, Watson, Salomaki, possibly others till Fisher comes back rising the Nystrom-Gaustad-Fisher line to 3rd line minutes. Based on healing and rehab time of a torn Achilles 4-6 months away from the roster, 2 weeks of rehab in Milwaukee, maybe a month or two on the 4th line and by the time the playoffs come Fisher could be on the higher lines. My biggest concerns is will Fisher’s speed come back? Also with the rumors of Fisher retiring after this year does he have the drive for a long term rehab?